Prepare to Call Crab Season a Disaster, Coastal Representatives Urge Governor


Dungeness crabs in a trap. [Photo from Department of Fish and Wildlife.]

Press release:

California Reps. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), Sam Farr (D-Monterey), and Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown [yesterday] urging him to closely monitor the levels of domoic acid in Dungeness crab and to stand ready to ask the Secretary of Commerce to declare a disaster if the fishery is closed for the season. The coastal lawmakers raised concerns about the high levels of domoic acid linked to a toxic algal bloom found along the West Coast, stretching from central California to the Alaska Peninsula, which have caused delays in the opening of the recreational and commercial seasons.

The Dungeness crab fishery was valued at $60 million last year for California. A closure of the Dungeness crab commercial fishery would impact coastal communities in Central and Northern California, as well as the state economy.

“The closure of the Dungeness crab fishery would not only make the holidays a little less bright, it would deal a hard blow for North coast fishermen, who have already been impacted by a poor year for salmon landings,” Huffman said. “While Californians’ Thanksgiving celebrations may not feature Dungeness crab this year, we can at least provide the assurance that federal disaster relief will be available to fishermen and affected communities and businesses if we lose the fishery.  We are keeping our fingers crossed for improved conditions next month, but in the meantime we will be working closely with our state and federal partners—from the Governor’s office to the White House—so that we can respond quickly in the event of a total closure.”

“I, along with thousands of Californians, will miss eating Dungeness crab this Thanksgiving, but it’s the fishermen who are paying the real price for the closure of the crab season,” Speier said. “After being financially punished by a dismal salmon season this year, these same fishermen are now looking at no income from crab – traditionally 50 percent of their income – yet having to pay for their licenses and boat maintenance. If the season doesn’t open soon, these men and women deserve a financial lifeline. I urge the governor to start preparing for a disaster declaration now.”

[Below is a copy of the letter:]

Dear Governor Brown,


We write to express our concern about the high levels of domoic acid in Dungeness crab, which is linked to a massive toxic bloom of the marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia. The elevated levels of domoic acid have caused delays in the opening of the 2015/2016 recreational and commercial Dungeness crab fishing seasons. While we are hopeful that the situation will turn around and the fisheries can be opened safely and promptly, we remain concerned about the economic consequences of a fishery closure. So that state and federal resources can be brought to bear at the earliest opportunity, we urge you to dedicate adequate resources to monitor the situation closely and to stand ready to ask the Secretary of Commerce to declare a fishery disaster through NOAA Fisheries if the commercial fishery must be closed for the 2015/2016 season.


The bloom is the largest and longest-lasting in at least 15 years, and concentrations of domoic acid in seawater, some forage fish, and crab samples have been among the highest ever reported for this region. In mid-May, domoic acid concentrations in Monterey Bay, California were 10 to 30 times the level that would be considered high for a normal Pseudo-nitzschia bloom. We understand that state and federal agencies are monitoring the situation and are providing frequent updates and test results from samples collected off of the coasts from Santa Barbara to Crescent City.


The commercial Dungeness crab fishery is crucial to the economies of Central and North Coast communities and to the overall state economy. Last year, commercial Dungeness crab harvests in California were valued at $60 million. A closure of this fishery would be devastating for fishermen, who have already been impacted by a poor salmon season this year, which yielded just one third of the average harvest.


We thank you for monitoring the situation and urge you to be prepared to immediately ask for the Secretary of Commerce to declare a fishery disaster in the event of continued closures so that state and federal resources can be quickly mobilized.





  • Nooooo! I remember zoltan.. talking about this. Haven’t heard a peep from him/her since the big hurricane in Mexico. Hope they are ok…..

  • “Financial lifeline” sounds like welfare to me.

    • working your ass off to bring fresh sea food to your tables after investing often times hundreds of thousands of dollars and alot of blood sweat and tears to become a skipper boat owner only to have the government shut you down without a moments notice and to have someone say that your a welfare recipient is not only an insult but shows ignorance on your part

  • Wait for people to awaken to Fukushima radiation levels that have washing along the west coast. BC has banned fishing in areas because of it. Alaska, too.

    Time to sell the boat and do something else, it’s over.

    • Disolvables,soluables,fed microbes,starting,now hardly grind,rain that carries clean,acidified,fortified by oil medicine is biggest of regular,or atom war now is minor distraction.extinction.

  • Adding insult to injury, the sewage spill from Szechuan Garden Chinese restaurant on 18th in Arcata spilled over 600 gallons of sewage into Jolly Creek and the bay, so the Oyster’s are all poisoned too.

    While on the subject, nobody mentions the Oil Spill that happened near Santa Barbara spilling 21,000 gallons of oil reported Lost Coast Outpost. This was May of 2015. Around August or September 2015, I heard them talking on KMUD about this toxic algae along the entire coast. They were already talking about crab closures in Oregon and Washington States. It is only now reaching mainstream news, when our crab season was supposed to open, but this has been known since shortly after the oil spill. People who I have mentioned the oil spill being a contributor to the toxic algae say there is no connection. Everyone says that this toxic algae is due to the warming waters.

    As mentioned above, Fukushima…those Nuclear Reactors are still leaking last I heard, and Japan is starting more Nuclear Power plants? Has it already been 4 years since Fukushima? Blue Fin Tuna have very high radiation content.

    Why aren’t our waters tested more frequently? Get rid of some of the desk jobs and put more experts in the field constantly checking all of our rivers and coastal ocean waters.

    This leads me to bring up more assaults on our ocean and rivers. It is taking a lawsuit to stop the Lily Producers from their ongoing poisoning of the Smith River estuary. Despite testing positive for YEARS for pesticides that harm fish in the Smith River estuary (and people/schools nearby), the “people in charge” are doing NOTHING. Next the Lily Producers (who hire many temporary undocumented workers to work around the toxic lilies) will be complaining about the damn environmentalists causing them trouble. I wonder why Huffman never talks about that. There is another story there.

    I do think the fishermen and businesses affected will need some help to survive, until they can be trained to do a new occupation. Maybe extend unemployment if they are enrolled in a training program. Or put them to work on other well needed projects; perhaps installing solar and water capturing and filtering systems to use when water is scarce in the summer. These are jobs that can be on-the-job training if there are no other job training opportunities through the colleges.

    • Any person that recalls the pulp mill running full steam wouldn’t eat a thing from the bay. Granted it’s sort of coming back, but it used to give people cancer from swimming in it.

      That’s the irony of the health care fund bring stolen by Mann, karma for killing. Lmao!

    • Algal blooms are determined by feedstock and PH and temperature.mostly our runoff.

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